Today begins an 11-day trip to Israel that I’ve dreamed of for many years. I’ve signed up for two other trips to Israel in the past that were ultimately cancelled, but it seems like this one is actually going to come to fruition. I’m traveling with my Dad and a group of 90+ people who will arrive from three different airline routes and are scheduled to convene on December 30th at our first hotel in Hadera.
Leading the group is Dr. Rodney Cloud, who was one of my professors at Lipscomb University over 23 years ago, and Keith Parker who was my preacher for several years at Maple Hill Church of Christ through my middle and high school years. Dr. Cloud was actually the interim preacher at Maple Hill after Keith left, and I was able to attend a Greek class he held at the building on Sunday afternoons. I believe this was right around the time that I started college. Also in the group are a number of friends from Lebanon including Claudean Bissinger, Jeff and Terry Hallums, and Butch and Vona Reed. I’m also excited to meet up with my friend Greg Tidwell, who preaches in Columbus, Ohio and will be traveling in through Washington D.C.
This first morning got off to bumpy start. When I woke up at 6am to get ready to leave, there was a message on my phone that our 9:25am flight from Nashville to Newark had been delayed by 2 hours and 55 minutes due to technical issues. Since we only had a 3.5-hour layover in Newark before our flight to Tel Aviv, this would make for a tight window. However, it did allow for me to be with my girls a bit longer than anticipated, which was nice.
Around 9am, I took an Uber to the airport, and then met up with my Dad and the rest of the 24 members of our group flying through Newark. Of note, I met a member of our group from Brentwood that I immediately recognized and eventually figured out was one of my professors back at Lipscomb. His name is Kevin Collins, and he taught an adjunct night-class on COBOL that I was a part of back in 1994 or 1995.
After meeting up with the group, we soon found out that the flight had been delayed another 26 minutes, which shortened our connection window to 14 minutes for the 4pm EST flight to Tel Aviv. It was then delayed two more times which meant that we landed in Newark about 3 minutes after our connecting flight took off. I’m actually surprised that the flight didn’t wait for us since there were 24 connecting, but it is what it is. On the flight I was able to sit with Keith and Sandra Parker, and it was good to catch up after so many years.
We had a bit of a struggle with United Airlines in Newark, but all finally got seats on an 11pm flight to Tel Aviv, which is 7 hours later than originally scheduled. This means that we will miss our first day of touring in Israel, including Caesarea Maritima, but hopefully everything will go as scheduled for the remainder of the trip. Since we had some time to kill, several of us had dinner in the airport at the Abruzzo Italian Steakhouse, and I had a wonderful 16oz bone-in New York Strip. I’m sure this meal was a lot better than the dinner we would have been served on the flight to Tel Aviv.
Around 9pm we had to go through another security screening at the gate as the final step before our flight. After hanging out at the gate a bit we then boarded our flight to Tel Aviv just after 10:30pm. Our plane was a Boeing 777 which holds 367 passengers. Wow! If our flight arrives on time, then it will be 4:20pm on December 30, so I will probably leave any additional notes on the flight for tomorrow’s journal.